Apr 6, 2022 - Health

C-sections and induced deliveries dropped during COVID

Illustration of a toy baby mobile with coronavirus cells, a syringe, a surgical mask and a vaccine vial all hanging from the strings. 

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There was a 6.5% drop in both C-sections and induced deliveries in the first month of the pandemic in the U.S. with a sustained drop thereafter, according to a study published today in the journal Pediatrics.

Details: In the study, which is the first large-scale examination of COVID-era birth data, researchers from Georgia Tech's School of Economics looked at records of nearly 39 million U.S. births from 2010 to 2020.

  • They also used data from the National Center for Health Statistics to forecast expected premature births from March to December of 2020 and compared the predictions to the actual numbers.
  • That number remained on average 0.35 percentage points below the predicted values, translating to 350 fewer preterm C-sections and induced deliveries per 100,000 live births, or 10,000 fewer overall.

What they're saying: More studies are needed, but researchers said they believe the reductions were the likely result of fewer prenatal visits due to social distancing.

  • "We know for certain that doctors' interventions cause preterm delivery, and for good reason most of the time," assistant professor Daniel Dench, the paper's lead author, said in a statement.
  • "So, when I saw the change in preterm births, I thought, if anything changed preterm delivery, it probably had to be some change in how doctors were treating patients."

The big picture: The study offers yet another example of how the pandemic drastically changed care in the U.S. and could impact patient outcomes.

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